Thoughts on Games
Walden University Assignment – Course 6715: Week 6 Discussion
Benefits and Challenges of Games in the Classroom
One of the main benefits of integrating games into the curriculum is that it brings a tool into the classroom in which students are familiar with and enjoy using. Gee (2005) mentions many benefits of GAME PLAY in education, such as students having to follow a set of rules, analyze their options, make decisions, perform tasks, and evaluate the results on whether their decision produced the desired outcome or not. Games also encourage pattern identification, exploration, and provide a reinforced scaffolding approach to learning; taking what they know and have learned and connecting this with new information being introduced. The most interesting insight Gee (2005) spoke about was “just-in-time” and “on demand” learning. Understandably, for any of us, when we have made clear connections, we become open and ready for new information. All students learn at their own speed, and when they reach an intellectual milestone, only then are they able to truly receive new information, process it, and apply it to demonstrate learning. This method of learning focuses on the individual student; actively encouraging them to grasp concepts in a non-threatening manner, then motivating them to move forward as soon as THEY are ready. This creates a more meaningful learning experience that ensures learning is taking place.
GAME DEVELOPMENT has all of the benefits of game play however, it has additional benefits. Creating games focuses on the student as the teacher and teacher as the facilitator, guide or resource. As the teacher, students have a better opportunity to master content because they must first collect, organize, analyze and interpret information; then plan, apply and creatively explain the concept to demonstrate understanding; and finally create a mini-game based on their own understanding of the content which in turn, teaches that concept to someone else; the game player (Overbaugh & Schultz, n.d.), (Prensky, 2008). This process can help students build self-efficacy as they are given more control over their learning, are able to create something that has value to them and their peers, and are recognized and rewarded for their unique ideas and creativity (Prensky, 2008). Other benefits include soft skill building in peer-to-peer and peer-to-teacher communication, collaboration and cooperation.
Challenges to bringing game play and development into the classroom is (1) obtaining buy-in from the administration and parents as the perception society has on games revolves around them either being “a waste of time” or “a negative influence on our youth;” as well as (2) securing resources and support. In addition, (3) other teachers may oppose adopting this method, as Prensky explains (2008) because they have been taught to be, and are most comfortable with being, the authority on information acquisition. Many teachers are afraid to try something out of the realm of their knowledge and experience because they believe they must have all of the answers for their students. However, with educational strategies today focusing on student-centered learning, so should professional development training. Teachers need to be trained on how to assist student growth by working along-side them, guiding them when needed, and learning along with students.
I do believe in using game play and development as learning tools in the classroom. However, the games students play in the classroom need to be evaluated for content and learning goals to ensure their effectiveness. Game development offers higher pedagogical application, engages and motivates students to be active participants in their learning (as games are a regular part of today’s society), and encourages students to take responsibility for their learning. Using game development in my classroom proved to be as much of an enlightening experience for me as it was for my students. My classroom was filled with active and focused energy. Students were excited to find I did not have all of the answers, yet I would work along side them to research or explore a solution. It became a competition to them to be the first to find the answer. When they did, I would take a moment to stop the class, have the student share what they had discovered, then let the student demonstrate/teach me (and other students interested) how to solve the problem presented. I would then have the student create the single-action/event in the game software and upload it to our library resource with their name next to it. When other students needed to know how to perform that action/event, they would download and open the file, then review how the action/event was applied to reverse engineer the action/event for their game.
Gee, J. P. (2005). Good video games and good learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85(2), 33–37.
Overbaugh, R. C., & Schultz, L. (n.d.). Bloom’s Taxonomy. Old Dominion University. Retrieved June 8, 2011, from http://www.odu.edu/educ/roverbau/Bloom/blooms_taxonomy.htm
Prensky, M. (2008). Students as designers and creators of educational computer games: Who else? The British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(6), 1004–1019.
As a middle school technology teacher, instructional designer, and game development in education advocate, I am curious to know WHAT TEACHERS NEED to either:
- get started in educational game development, or
- gain support with…
in order to further their or their students’ efficiency and success with this type of innovative curriculum. I am working with my sister, Anna Sexton, as she is a game development advocate at the high school level; and with my friend and mentor, Amanda Hefner, founder of the Texas Games Network and an officer of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Special Interest Group, Games and Simulations (SIGGS).
If you are an educator or education administrator who has questions or concerns, or who is looking to further their understanding and knowledge in the area of game development in the classroom, respond to this blog. What do you need, what do your kids need, what ideas do you have, what successes or challenges have you had or are having, etc.? I will do my best to help you using my experience and any research I can find! If I can’t help, maybe another member will have insight they can share with our Gaming4Ed community to assist all of us in building a strong foundation for interactive game development as a successful learning strategy in our schools!
Technology allows us to do the same things we have been doing, only differently. Buying, selling, communicating, etc. is now more streamlined and efficient because of technology. Take for instance, communication. We started with runners over land and ships by sea to carry messages and mail. The Pony Express was later established to get correspondence through hostile territory more quickly. In the 1700s, steam engines were invented (Botorff, n.d.) and in the 1840s, the electric telegraph was invented allowing messages to be sent via Morris code (Rainwater, n.d.). In 1876, the first telephone transmission was made (Wikipedia, n.d.) and in the 1890s, the first gasoline powered car was built (Bottorff, n.d.). In 1924, airplanes were used for the first time in the United States by the U.S. Postal Office (AcePilots.com, 2009). Finally, we come to the Internet where electronic mail (e-mail) was started in 1972 (Gaudin, 2002), followed by instant messaging and web conferencing capabilities. The evolution of communication, in around a century and a half, is quite impressive!
In education, technology has evolved, allowing us to still give quizzes and tests, as well as, take and average grades, but we can now do all of this on the computer where it will automatically score and average grades for us. Students can use the internet to research resources online through various search engines like Google and the Encyclopedia Britannica, instead of being limited to using old card catalog systems and what is available in their school library.
As a learning tool, educators have been using technology to engage and motivate students. One such resource is online or company provided games. Game play is a prime example of “doing things differently” to educate students. Instead of reading a book, filling out a worksheet, or taking notes on a lecture, students can work interactively to learn grade-level content. Now, I am not saying games should replace all teaching strategies, but I am stating that games offer a fun and lively way to introduce or reinforce content to students. Games provide basic to complex visual stimulation, promotes fundamental to advanced motor skills, and encourages critical thinking and problem solving abilities. Depending on the type of games made available to students, they can build upon their independent learning and/or social and group collaboration skills.
AcePilots.com. (2009). Record-setting pioneers in the golden age of aviation, 1919-39. WW2 and aviation – facts, history, and pictures. Retrieved March 6, 2010, from http://www.acepilots.com/pioneers.html
Why is it that the words “video game” is still met by opposition by the education industry? I understand that violent games exist, but many schools already use software or online subscriptions to educational sites that use games as a learning tool. Games have fun and interesting graphics for visual learners, promote interaction through challenging scenarios for kinesthetic learners, and some even utilize speech and sound effects for auditory learners.
According to a national survey done by Pew Internet & American Life Project in 2008, 97% of kids ages 12 through 17 play video games (Irvine, 2008). With this high interest and the push to meet the needs of 21st century learners, game play and game development should be embraced as a tool that will engage and motivate students to learn and explore while they build the skills necessary to think critically and problem solve.
Irvine, M. (2008, September 16). Survey: 97 Percent Of Children Play Video Games. Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 6, 2010, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/16/survey-97-percent-of-chil_n_126948.html